During the month of March, The Southland Music Line continued its busy 2017 schedule with another trip to South By Southwest in Austin, Texas. It has become an anxiously awaited annual event for us and this year was no exception.
Prior to our satisfying adventure covering Bruce Springsteen’s Australia and New Zealand tour, we made our SXSW plans early.
Once again, we concentrated on a group of music venues and often non-showcase events during SXSW. One of our favorite events during the week is the Sun Radio Sessions held at El Mercado’s Backstage. During this week of non-stop music, Austin’s award winning solar-powered radio station hosts a live series of performers that provide a enjoyable broadcast of all-star entertainment.
Longtime radio personality Jessie Scott (one of the nation’s first female DJs, a founding member Americana Music Association, program director at WMOT Roots Radio in Nashville and a remarkable story all unto herself) has the know-how to arrange one of the best lineups during the week of South By Southwest.This year, a good portion of the broadcast was aired simultaneously with Nashville’s WMOT.
During Sun Radio’s special week of broadcasting, we enjoyed seeing several live performances by Ray Wylie Hubbard, Shinyribs, Parker Millsap, Carolyn Wonderland, Sunny Sweaney, Otis Gibbs, David Ramirez, Whitney Rose, Jeff Plankenhorn, Max Gomez, The Peterson Brothers, The Steel Woods and more.
Ray Wylie Hubbard at the Sun Radio Sessions
Sun Radio aired a morning edition from Yeti’s Flagship location a few blocks from El Mercado. It got the day started on a good note with a nice lineup of performances.
We also returned in 2017 to The Broken Spoke for Twang Fest Day. This world famous venue has Texas written all over it and we featured it prominently in last year’s SXSW article. This year’s lineup consisted of The Waco Brothers, Ha Ha Tonka, Band of Heathens, Garland Jeffreys, Lilly Hiatt, The Secret Sisters, Lillie Mae, Patrick Sweany, High Plains Jamboree, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers. A visit to Austin isn’t complete without a trip to The Broken Spoke.
The Broken Spoke in Austin, TX
Some additional music artists seen at this year’s SXSW: Andrew Combs, Brent Cobb, Colony House, Southern Avenue, Ian Moore, The Mastersons, Nick Waterhouse, Gurf Morlix, Slaid Cleaves, Emily Bell and several others.
Topping the week off was a celebration of more than a dozen musicians performing numerous songs associated with the band Big Star (a personal all-time favorite), primarily focusing on their “Third” album. Coinciding with the SXSW release of the concert film “Thank You Friends: Big Star’s Third Live … and More”, Big Star’s co-founder Jody Stephens, R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, the dB’s Chris Stamey, Let’s Active’s Mitch Easter, Robyn Hitchcock, Parker Millsap, Skylar Gudasz, Ken Stringfellow and others honored the music of the legendary Memphis based band with a special performance at Austin’s Central Presbyterian Church.
“Thank You Friends: Big Star’s Third Live….And More” appeared at SXSW 2017 and was accompanied by a special evening of music.
Big Star’s Alex Chilton died seven years ago on the eve of a Big Star reunion at SXSW 2010. Following that untimely event, a special tribute show was held and gave birth to Big Star’s Third orchestra with rediscovery of the original string score for the 1978 album “Third/Sister Lovers”.
The annual South By Southwest is a one of a kind event with thousands of options to consider. We have always taken in the music side of the festival, but it is only a part of the large extravaganza of entertainment. In recent years, we have concentrated more on the shows outside of the busy downtown mecca of music located on 6th Street and surrounding areas though we would encourage first-time goers to consider diving into the downtown scene. Also, there are plenty of inexpensive ways to enjoy the week without the hassle often associated with huge crowds. We have found it is best to learn from the Austin locals – attend what they recommend. Our suggestion is to check out local Austin websites.
We are not discouraging the purchase of wristbands/badges and attending the often crowded showcases, but are suggesting an alternative way to experience this week of so much activity. There is no shortage of music that can be enjoyed without spending lots of money.
We look forward to next year and hopefully you too can enjoy South By Southwest as we do.
A few affordable suggestions:
Rooms can be expensive during SXSW, so we encourage booking rooms early. Several nearby towns provide a number of options. A 30 minute drive south to San Marcos might offer a way not to break your wallet and get you out of the big city for peaceful night of rest.
Wristbands and badges might get you into several well promoted events, but there are several ways to see some of the very same artists without paying a lot. Facebook is a perfect way to reserve spots into a number of often free shows. If you don’t have a wristband or badge, don’t worry because you can still attend more than enough shows (still with great access to performers for autographs and photos). Also, parking to most non-showcase shows is often more available and accessible.
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